Thursday, December 31, 2020

Dec 28-Jan 3: D&C 1

As the designated preface for the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 1 deserves a great deal of attention. You and I could write an entire post about each verse. 

Time constraints force us to focus. 

The Lord explains that he gave these commandments (a synonym for scriptures in this context) for specific reasons, including this:

That faith also might increase in the earth;
(Doctrine and Covenants 1:21)

In our day, there are innumerable challenges to our faith, both from without and within the Church. There have always been critics who opposed the work, but now we have scholars who are trying to persuade the Latter-day Saints that Joseph Smith never really translated anything, that he never used the plates but instead he merely read words that appeared on a seer stone he put in a hat, etc.  

D&C 1 addresses these attacks on faith directly. It includes two key passages that tell us about:

1. The translation of the Book of Mormon.

2. The truthfulness of the revelations.


Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

(Doctrine and Covenants 1:24)

Joseph Smith dictated the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants as the words of the Lord came into his mind. Thus, the revelations are written "after the manner of [Joseph's] language." 

In the same way, the Book of Mormon is a translation of the engravings on the ancient Nephite plates. Joseph drew upon his own "mental language bank" to render the original writings into English that he and his contemporaries understood.

Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

(Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38)

The revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants speak of Joseph translating the plates with the Urim and Thummim, of two separate sets of plates (the abridged plates from the stone box and the plates of Nephi that Joseph received in Fayette), and of a mission to the Lamanites (the Indians or Native Americans living in New York and Ohio). We will discuss each of these details and more during the year.

The key point to remember is that these commandments (revelations) are true and faithful. We should not be distracted by scholars and intellectuals who say the revelations are wrong, or unreliable.

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